The basketball team Sigal Prishtina has been declared the ‘Sports Club of the Decade’ in Kosovo. They won this prestigious title after having won the championship seven times and the Kosovo cup nine times. This year they are well on their way to winning the Kosovo cup for the tenth time.
This kind of success is the result of expert work with the players. A number of foreign coaches have been hired such as Josip Đerđa and Čedomir Perinčić from Croatia, Ekrem Memnun from Turkey, and Bujar Shehu from Albania.
Moreover, excellent players from abroad have played or are still playing for this team including Timothy Burnett from the U.S., who is now a pivotal force for Sigal Prishtina.
Local players are also very good and highly thought of – Yll Kacaniku, Edmond Azemi, Muhamed Hasani, Arian Maliqi, Habib and Edmond Ademi and Granit Rugova are only some of the local players who, over the past few years, have left an indelible trace on basketball playing in Kosovo.
Many basketball players who started their career in the Prishtina basketball club are now playing abroad. Yll Kacaniku is currently playing for Karşiyaka in the city of Izmir, Edmond Azemi has played in Sweden, Iceland and in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Muhamed Hasani plays in Qatar, Arian Maliqi is in the U.S., and Habib Ademi has played in Slovenia and France.
Prishtina basketball club expects that the young generations, the pioneers, cadets and juniors will follow the example of their older colleagues but also that they will make a place for themselves in the European basketball arena. The club also boasts a women’s basketball team, which has been very successful playing in the Kosovo Super League.
In an interview for Southeast Europe: People and Culture, the director of this popular and successful club Artan Rugova said that his team would continue their work improving basketball and the team spirit in Kosovo, but he also mentioned that the team needs to take part in international competitions.
Rugova, who used to play for Prishtina basketball club as well as for Drita in Gnjilane, believes that people around the world, as well as the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), should take action and open the door for sports teams from Kosovo to take part in international competitions. For a start, it would be of the highest importance for the Prishtina basketball club to take part in the Balkan League, says Rugova.
“It is a well known fact that sport builds up a healthy outlook, spreads friendship and connects people of all nationalities. This would be especially good for our region but also for Europe and the world in general,” says Rugova.
The director of Prishtina basketball club is sure that the players in his club would be a match for the players in other teams in the region.
“They have shown this to be true in the hundred or so international friendly matches against foreign teams, mainly from the countries of the former Yugoslavia and Turkey,” says Rugova.
Zadar and Rijeka from Croatia, Budućnost, Mornar and Ulcinj from Montenegro, Vardar, Rabotnički and Feni from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Darussafaka and Efes Pilsen from Turkey are only some of the teams that Prishtina basketball club has played against and with whom it maintains “excellent relations,” says Rugova.
He claims that apart from Prishtina basketball club, the local teams Bambi from Mitrovica and Peć would be on a par with any of the teams from the countries of former Yugoslavia. He hopes that he might see this opinion proven in regional competitions soon.